Facebook officials will attend Paris summit to combat spread of terror online following Christchurch attacks

Posted on: April 24th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

David Tran/iStock(NEW YORK) — Representatives from Facebook will be among the social media executives attending a May 15 summit being organized by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to combat the spread of terrorist material online.

The summit, which Ardern will co-chair with French President Emmanuel Macron in conjunction with the G7 “Tech for Humanity” meeting, will ask world leaders and the CEOs of technology companies to support the “Christchurch Call,” a pledge to remove terrorist content online

The pledge is being launched in response to last month’s terrorist attack in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, where Brendon Tarrant killed 50 worshipers and wounded dozens more at two mosques. The attack was live streamed on Facebook and widely shared online.

Facebook was drawn further into the controversy when company representatives didn’t comment on the case until two weeks after the attack. In a letter to the New Zealand Herald, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company was “committed to reviewing what happened,” without outlining specific policies to counter similar activity in the future.

In a statement Wednesday to ABC News, a Facebook spokesperson said the company will be sending representatives to the summit.

“We share the commitment of world leaders to keep people safe and look forward to collaborating with government, industry and safety experts on a clear framework of rules to help achieve this. We’re evaluating how we can best support this effort and who among top Facebook executives will attend.”

Facebook officials said they removed 1.5 million videos of the shooting in the 24 hours following the attack, 1.2 million of which were blocked while in the process of being uploaded.

However Ardern says that more had to be done in the wake of the attack, as social media was being used in an “unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate.”

“We’re calling on the leaders of tech companies to join with us and help achieve our goal of eliminating violent extremism online at the Christchurch Summit in Paris,” she said Wednesday in a statement. “We all need to act, and that includes social media providers taking more responsibility for the content that is on their platforms, and taking action so that violent extremist content cannot be published and shared.”

Ardern described the summit as “an opportunity for an act of unity between governments and tech companies.”

“Social media platforms can connect people in many very positive ways, and we all want this to continue,” she said. “But for too long, it has also been possible to use these platforms to incite extremist violence, and even to distribute images of that violence, as happened in Christchurch. This is what needs to change.”

Twitter representatives did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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